Dayton school unions cite problems with bonus delay, unlicensed staff

School aides group says some have worked without licenses for years; Lawrence admits bus driver bonuses were not paid on time, but says they’re coming



Dayton Public Schools unions representing teachers, bus drivers and paraprofessionals brought multiple issues to the most recent school board meeting, including worries about paraprofessionals not being fully licensed and bonuses for bus drivers being late.

Kenny Jones Jr., the president of the paraprofessionals’ union at Dayton Public, said paraprofessionals have been working for up to three years without certifications. He said that the central office of the district is also not closely tracking who has a certification and who does not, so paraprofessionals are being blamed when something goes wrong.

“Security will come over and say, they have no license, they have no FBI, BCI background check,” Jones said. “Why are we waiting so long to let the paraprofessionals know before this stuff is happening?”

Jones asked the district to track the licenses more closely. School Board President Chrisondra Goodwine asked the human resources department and the interim superintendent, David Lawrence, to see if any paraprofessionals were currently practicing without a license.

Lawrence said it is not the district’s practice to hire paraprofessionals without a license but said it may have been what past administrations had done.

Marvin Jones, executive director of human resources, said it is possible to hire a paraprofessional who doesn’t have a license but whose license is listed as “pending” on the Ohio Department of Education’s website.

Bus drivers’ union President Marie Winfrey said the driver bonus for the first quarter based on good attendance had not yet been paid as of last week. The first quarter ended Oct. 12.

Several bus drivers showed up to the meeting and cheered for Winfrey as she spoke. Nathan Griffith, a representative for the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, said OAPSE had gotten involved and reached out multiple times to the district to get the problem solved, without success.

“It is sickening the district’s way of thanking these members is to not pay them the bonuses that’s been agreed upon,” Griffith said. “It is even more troubling that when we have reached out over the payment issues, we have been called unprofessional and been demeaned for simply trying to get a correction on the top leadership.”

Jones, DPS’ HR leader, said the district had finalized and submitted the list of bus driver bonuses on Nov. 21 and district treasurer Hiwot Abraha said the payments should be ready on Nov. 28.

Lawrence said the district’s plan to make sure this didn’t happen in the future was to get a team of HR people together. Several people left the district with the change from former superintendent Elizabeth Lolli to Lawrence.

“We didn’t get this right,” Lawrence said. “There’s no sugarcoating it.”

Dayton Education Association President Neil Mahoney said district teachers have been struggling with the pace of changes and the number of things they are now being asked to do. Goodwine asked for a specific list of actionable items the district leadership could do, which Mahoney said he would be able to provide after the Thanksgiving holiday based on a survey the union had put out to its members.

About the Author